Games without Spectacle: Why “To the Moon” is 2011′s Game of the Year
- November 30th, 2011
- By Lissy
As an artistic medium, games in general have become fully realized as perhaps the most poignant form expression to those privy to it. For all intensive purposes, games have replaced movies in the same way movies replaced books as the most accessible and mainstream method of story telling. Most games, however, released nowadays are still wholly integrated with the toxic refuse of Fredric Jameson’s postmodern “depthlessness.” While most AAA (“triple A”) titles have completely embraced interactivity on both a PvE and PvP level due to the advent of new technology, games in general still lack real and meaningful substance often becoming a parody of itself and things that have come before it. Becoming a game developer in terms of financial success has, like anything in the world, become increasingly more and more difficult due to the nature of the market itself. Large game developers such as Activision and Electronic Arts are concerned with numbers. Financial triumphs over artistic freedom. They would rather risk becoming bigger at the cost of sacrificing quality in the fabric of their products, than taking a financial hit in the name of releasing something meaningful–even if it had a possibility of success.
I’m not going to sit here and tell you what these big game companies do is a bad, even in the slightest. These companies have massive power with the ability to create interactive worlds that overshadow anything we as humans have encountered in any other social medium before it. What I am going to tell you is that because of graphical and technological advancements games have become little more than a mere spectacle. Sega’s Bayonetta is a perfect example of this, and is, in my opinion, the crown jewel of postmodern games embracing spectacle, depthlessness, and parody. Sega wants their audience to drool over Bayonetta, even though under all that tight leather isn’t much meat both literally and in a metaphorical sense.
“To the Moon” by Freebird Games, unlike all the incredible AAA titles we were graced with this year inverts this idea of graphics over substance and beckons us to a time when artistic mediums were truly capable of evoking genuine emotion and reflection. It might be really funny to hear but “To the Moon” caused me to really think, to give some sort of conscious thought to how I got to where I am in life, and where I may or may not be going. I gave a lot of consideration to the idea of quantum realities, after playing it, and to the idea that our lives may be but one part to a multiverse of possible outcomes that could’ve and perhaps did happen in an alternative reality. Check out the “Parallels” episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, if you have no idea what I’m talking about. This shit is fucking deep. And to think, a 16-bit game made with RPG maker caused me to ponder all of this.
Did I mention that I literally wept for the last hour and a half of the game? Experiencing an entire lifetime in five hours can do that to a person. In terms of game play itself, “To the Moon” is in the traditional sense a point and click adventure, but the masterful story telling and musical tone sets off a series of emotions that I refuse to think that you will want to miss. “To the Moon” is certainly a title that will more than likely be forgotten and I find it shameful, repugnant, and down right heartbreaking that amidst all the crazy ass forth quarter releases, that it may never gain the notoriety I think it deserves.
I challenge you as gamers to take one evening, that’s ONE, out of your busy schedule of playing the new Warcraft patch, Skyrim, Modern Warfare, or Skyward Sword and check “To the Moon” out. You can play this game in one five hour sitting, and unless you’re too busy ogling depthless bullshit chock full of spectacle, you certainly won’t regret doing so either. Play this game. Seriously. Play it.
Being game of the year shouldn’t be about having the prettiest graphics, or the most accessible game play. Being game of the year shouldn’t be about how much money went into creating the game, or if it was AAA title. AAA titles get enough coverage. It’s these indie games, these little gems that always come and go unnoticed. Being game of the year shouldn’t be something that catapults further sales for companies that just keep getting bigger. It should be about a game that does something with such wonderful execution and emotional fervor that it can and should be regarded as an artistic masterpiece. “To the Moon” accomplishes this and more, and that, my friends is why I regard it as 2011’s champion. Game of the fucking year.
You can purchase “To the Moon” HERE for $11.99. Please show your support for this incredible game!